Friday, February 10, 2012

You Should Just Be Quiet

Please read Matthew Paul Turner's Me, troublemaker? post.

Over the last few weeks, my husband and I, like Matthew, have gotten many comments implying that we should not be talking about our experience at Mars Hill.  These commenters are knowingly or unknowingly employing the "Don't Talk" rule.

What is the "Don't Talk" rule?

David Johnson and Jeff VanVonderen describe it in The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse like this:
"The can't talk rule has this thinking behind it: 'The real problem cannot be exposed because then it would have to be dealt with and things would have to change; so it must be protected behind walls of silence (neglect) or by assault(legalistic attack).  If you speak about the problem out loud, you are the problem.  In some way you must be silenced or eliminated." pg. 68

The authors point out that the people who talk about the problems don't CAUSE them, they EXPOSE them.  Johnson & VanVonderen

In Healing Spiritual Abuse by Ken Blue says:
"One of the most troubling abusive traits in the dysfunctional church or denominational family is the unwritten "no talk" rule. This rule implies that certain problems in the group must not be exposed because then the group might look bad and things would have to change. The "no talk" rule itself is among those things never talked about. Healthy groups thrive on the free flow of information. Members have ready access to each other's opinions and concerns. Sick groups generally suffer from confused, defective or controlled communication."

Most often, for my husband and I, it comes in one of the following forms:
  1. What you are doing is not contributing to the cause of Christ (so you should just be quiet)
  2. What you are doing is not edifying (so you should just be quiet)
  3. What can you do about it?  Pastor Mark is a big "celebrity" and Mars Hill is a huge influence on Christian culture.  You are just one person.  (So you might as well be quiet).  For fun, read  Judges 6:1-16
  4. I have had a wonderful experience at Mars Hill, you must have done something wrong. (So, please, just be quiet).
I have my moments when I feel like I should maybe, well, just be quiet.  I mean, what about the people who did meet Jesus through Mars Hill?  What about all the well meaning members who have nothing to do with all this?

And then I think of the people who have shared their stories, both publicly and privately.  Some have lost faith in church, some have lost faith in people, some have lost faith in God.  Some have lost family members, marriages, kids.  Most have lost dignity.

There are people who are afraid of retaliation!  Sometimes, I am one of them. This should not be happening in the church.  The human part of us should be able to see past our associations and have empathy for those who have suffered, even if it was at the hands of someone we love or an organization we are part of!

I am with Matthew when he says:
"In my opinion, Mark is one of the most influential “Christian figures” affecting today’s “Christian culture”. His reach influences various aspects of Christian life: church growth, ministry, gender roles in the church, relationships, and more. Furthermore, Mark proactively seeks to influence and nurture young male pastors, church ministry workers, missionaries, etc. If Mark’s theologies, actions, and church management style only impacted Mars Hill, I probably wouldn’t care. Well, I would care and certainly make note of it, but I wouldn’t keep coming back to it. But Mark’s “gospel” bleeds into and affects how pastors of churches all over the country (and world) are managing their churches and ministries, from missions to church discipline. His words affect how pastors teach and manage and control a woman’s role in the church, home, work, etc. If you think I’m crazy, go read a month’s worth of comments on his Facebook wall. These pastors watch Mark. They sometimes idolize him. Sometimes they hang on his every word. And it’s all intentional. Mark doesn’t accidentally influence these pastors, it’s his passion and calling. From what I’ve heard and seen, Mark wants to influence how churches all over the world function. And that’s scary in my opinion."

When we started looking for a new church, after "the shun", we went to church after church (not Mars Hill or Acts 29).  The first one was a bit far from us, and they asked us if we had heard of Acts 29 and that maybe we could find a church closer to home.  Then the pastor announced they would be implementing The City soon.

The next one we went to seemed fine.  We had been going for a few months.  We missed a few services, and later found out that one of the services we missed was preached by...none other than Pastor Mark.  A few weeks later they promoted his "Real Marriage" book as book of the week.

He is influencing all the Mars Hill campuses, 400+ Acts 29 churches, and countless other non affiliated pastors.  It is concerning.  It is harder to find a church, at least in our area, that is not a "fan" then it is to find one that is.

So, NO!  I WILL NOT JUST BE QUIET!  I am okay with being misunderstood.  I am okay with being labeled the "problem".  I am willing to lose a few friends. If telling our story and the stories of others helps one person, then it was worth it.


  1. It's one of the rules in a dysfunctional family. I also struggle with the uplifting of one type of personality over another. I think that's the second rule...

    Thanks - I needed to hear this today.

  2. Thank you for sharing your story. I'm concerned now because my wife and I started attending a church plant where the pastor also seems to idolize Mark Driscoll. We've both had misgivings, but we had a lot of friends there and she is on staff, so I don't want to pressure her to leave. They are planning on establishing formal membership soon and having "ownership" classes, and I'm trying to figure out the best way for us to leave without creating a big rift or damaging relationships.

    1. We tried to keep it simple and graceful, as we were completely confused and didn't feel safe to even process why we were confused. Rely on the Holy Spirit, the Word (the fruits of the Spirit are a good place to be!), what God has shown you for your family, and wise counsel from tried and true friends; that would be my encouragement. My prayers are with you.

  3. When people leave a spiritually abusive situation, they have often been exposed to so much elitism that it is sometimes hard to look at other fellowships as adequate. The abusive churches they've been in have dissed other denominations and groups as inferior, and the abused buy into it. It's hard to find another place to worship after being exposed to this so long. I've seen this in people who've escaped from abusive charismatic churches and abusive Independent Fundamentalist Baptist churches, from small churches and megachurches, from Calvinist churches and Calvary Chapels and Arminian groups. The pet doctrines they hold onto still seem all important, and it keeps them from fellowship with others for a long time sometimes. When we left our abusive group, we first went to fellowship with other outcasts in a similar group, but later we had to really think about what was true and what was the result of the elitism that abusive leadership used to create unity in the cultish group. That's what elitism does. It helps the group circle the wagon around the pastor and shut out "lesser" Christians with "inferior" doctrines or practices.

  4. What a stupid and petty site started by a bunch of stupid and petty people. Losers.

    1. Whereas your comment is the pinacle or erudition and consideration. Breeze on by, friend. Unless there's something here that troubles you and you're just having difficulty putting your finger on it...

      Keep doing what you're doing Redeemed. I've never attended MH and go to church in an entirely different country but I've seen the effects of the influence of that congregation nonetheless. I've had friends attending churches on the other side of the planet actually hauled in to special meetings with church leaders because they've said during small group that they disagree with Driscoll on certain issues. That's the effect of this Acts 29 nonsense, he's trying to get churches outside of his own congregation and even his own country to fund and legitimate his ceaseless pursuit of personal glory and power.

      The man and his ministry is a ticking time-bomb. You're doing a good thing by setting up a refuge for when the trickle of hurt people turns into a flood.

    2. I believe name calling is not a thoughtful response nor respectful of another's pain.

      Whereas a kind and respectful discussion, and bringing up concerns of the what and the why of what is being shared I can respect, IF one were not in so much raw pain, grief, confusion, and discouragement.

      It's interesting how different personalities respond to being shamed and belittled themselves, and then, how they transfer their personal responses to others. My husband and I have had a lot of discussion about that, because God did make us all different, even as there commonalities.

    3. The loser appears to be you, "Anonymous". I've seen the effects of the Mars Hill spiritual abuse. I'm going to go ahead and assume you are a MH member who can't think for yourself and has come here to say that and run, because you have nothing more intelligent to say.

  5. one of the signs of abusive church relationship is the aspect of control. The response did admit that they mistakenly post it a private note in the public forum, I do believe that they so do, because the Cell group leader wanted to punish Andrew and shame him. This vengeful way to conduct 'church discipline' is way beyond a healthy relationship, which Mars Hill did also admit was wrong.

    Media is here to hold thing accountable, we have had Jim Jones many a time in the life time of one's personal journey of faith, and when the leadership is not accountable in a mega church scene, more trouble is yet to bubble up, I will keep an eye on these and warn others to stay out of it.

    A true sign of repentance is a change of heart which resulted in changed lives. That is the work of the inner light and not something forced upon externally, as in Mars Hill. They perhaps deal with many fatherless figures, and lack of a male leadership. Many of these kids have no such uprbinging, and Andrew being a home schooled person, lack the general sense of what is appropriate in a general culture, and his socialization I think is skewed, and it prepared him for a case of spiritual abuse, not critical thinking.

    Public shaming is always a wayto revenge, in my opinion of the strayed members. It has been practiced many times and I do sincerely hope with media's scrutiny, Mars Hill will pay attention to what they do to people. As I said before, everyone meant well, until it goes horribly wrong.......

    1. What do you think in Andrew's story shows that he lacks the general sense of what is appropriate and that his socialization is skewed? I'm curious...

  6. While I read this it reminded me of a quote by Susan B. Anothony:

    "Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputation and social standing, never can bring about a reform. Those who are really in earnest must be willing to be anything or nothing in the world's estimation, and publicly and privately, in season and out, avow their sympathy with despised and persecuted ideas and their advocates, and bear the consequences..."
    - Susan B. Anthony

    Keep doing what you're doing!

  7. Thank you so much for this blog and this post in particular. I've lost my brother, sister-in-law, and their children due in large part I believe to Mars Hill. I have other friends and family members who go to MH but are not members and therefore don't really see the bad things that go on there. I was reluctant to say anything about my feelings towards MH because I didn't want to "stir things up" with my friends and family. But after seeing the Komo 4 story on MH, I just really felt led to share it on my FB. I didn't comment on it, just shared it. My husband wasn't sure about sharing it and said he believes Mars Hill will fall someday anyways, but I thought "How many other families will be torn apart because of Mars Hill before that day comes?" I wouldn't wish what's happened to my family on anyone. So please, don't subscribe to the "don't talk" mentality. I had no idea how bad it was until I read the stories of the brave people who did speak up. Now my brother's actions make total sense- it goes along with everything else I read about MH. Doesn't make it hurt less, but it is nice to know that I'm not alone.

    So thank you again, and keep it up!

    1. Bethany, I am so sorry to hear that! I am so glad the blog has helped you. I will be praying for your family!